Leslie Lynn Conner Jr., 69, of Edmond, Okla., passed away peacefully on March 13, 2009, in Oklahoma City after a two-year struggle with lymphoma. Leslie was born July 15, 1939, in Oklahoma City, to Leslie L. Conner Sr. and Grace Conner. He graduated Northwest Classen High School in 1957. He attended the University of Oklahoma, Norman, where he met and married Nancy Newblock in 1960. He graduated from OU with honors, 1961, then received his LL.B. law degree, 1963. Leslie was a member of Beta Theta Pi. Leslie's military service included duty as a judge advocate in the Strategic Air Command, 1963-1966, plus 22 years in the U.S. Air Force Reserves, 1961-1983, during which he received both the Air Force Commendation Medal and Air Force Meritorious Service Medal. Leslie retired as a Lieutenant Colonel. Leslie's distinguished legal career was the manifestation of his desire to serve others. His leadership helmed the Oklahoma City law firm of Conner & Little from 1966 to 1990. Thereafter, he was of counsel with Little & Morgan, 1990-1992, and on his own as Leslie L. Conner Jr., P.C., from 1992 until his death. He was an experienced judge, arbitrator, mediator, fact-finder, hearing officer and hearing examiner, having arbitrated and mediated cases in Kansas, Indiana, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas. His judicial and arbitration experience included the Oklahoma City Municipal Court (special judge, 1990-1996), the NYSE (commercial arbitrator, 1971-2009), the Oklahoma State Insurance Commission (hearing examiner, 1995-2009) and the Oklahoma State Dept. of Education (fact-finder and hearing officer, 1993-2009). He was president of the Oklahoma Bar Association in 1980. Leslie took great pride in civic service, including the board of trustees of Heritage Hall School (president, 1979-82). He greatly valued his service on the board of directors for the First State Bank of Jones, in Jones, Okla. (1972-2009), where he had just become chairman of that board. He also passionately served his church, the United Methodist Church of Nichols Hills, where he had been a member since 1963 and had served in a variety of capacities, including as a lay leader. Expanding on those philosophies, he joined the board of the Epworth Villa (Central Oklahoma United Methodist Retirement Facility) in 1989, years before the facility was built. There he served in several capacities, including chairman of the board (2007-2009). He passed away at Epworth Villa. Leslie traveled widely with friends, and was especially fond of northern New Mexico with friends and the coast of Maine with family. He was a connoisseur of fine foods, and loved a good cigar with a glass of port. He collected jokes, and part of his service to others was always having a humorous thought or story at hand to make someone smile. Leslie is survived by his wife of 49 years, Nancy Conner sister Pat Coggan of Dallas three children: Debbie Hembree of Ft. Smith, Ark., Lauren Delpesce of Des Moines, Iowa, and Thomas Conner of Chicago and four grandchildren: Lawson Hembree V, Christopher Hembree, Ashley Delpesce and Keller Delpesce.A memorial service to celebrate his life will be 2 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, at United Methodist Church of Nichols Hills, 1212 Bedford Drive, OKC 73116. In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to the church or to Epworth Villa, 14901 N. Pennsylvania, OKC 73134.
Published in Oklahoman from Mar. 16 to Mar. 17, 2009.